Family Team News

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Preemies Today Receives a March of Dimes Grant

The March of Dimes Maryland-National Capital Area Chapter has awarded a grant to Preemies Today to support Education to Reduce the Risk of Preterm Births for NICU Parents, that is aimed at underserved maternal and child health needs in the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore metropolitan areas. This project will create a culturally sensitive video that demonstrates methods families can use to decrease their risk for a subsequent preterm birth and improve health and development outcomes of their post-NICU graduate babies. It is known that mothers who delivery prematurely are at greater risk for subsequent premature births and children born prematurely are at higher risk for developmental delays.

"We will use this grant as seed money to meet our objective of providing mothers and babies with risk reduction education," said Mary Beth Hazelgrove, Executive Director of Preemies Today. "We are grateful to those volunteers who support the March of Dimes by participation in events like March for Babies and who donate in other ways. That participation and those donations make this grant possible," she said.

Preemies Today is a volunteer-based organization whose mission is to advocate for families experiencing the traumatic event of a premature birth. Founded in 2003, Preemies Today provides parent-to-parent support, educational lectures, NICU baby showers, NICU Care bags, and social opportunities for families affected by prematurity. For more information, visit the Preemies Today website at

The March of Dimes is a national voluntary health agency whose mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature births and infant mortality. Founded in 1938, the March of Dimes funds research, community services, education, and advocacy to save babies and in 2003 launched a campaign to address the increasing rate of premature birth. For more information, visit the March of Dimes or its Spanish language website at

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Meet the Raak’s

When we found out we were pregnant with our second son, Henry, we assumed we would have the same experience we had with our oldest son, Oliver. Unfortunately at 24 weeks we went into pre-term labor. Thankfully, in a joint effort between Virginia Hospital Center and Georgetown University Hospital, the doctors and nurses were able to stop the contractions and we were able to hold off for two more weeks.

We did our best to prepare our family for the difficult time ahead. The information and support from the March of Dimes came as a welcome surprise to us. We knew we could rely on the March of Dimes website to read other parents’ postings and find comfort in knowing we were not alone and that there was such a great support system already in place for our family. In fact, the realization that pre- term labor is so common--more than half a million babies are born too soon each year--made us realize how lucky we were to have such an easy pregnancy with Oliver.

Henry was born at 26 weeks and was in the hospital for three months. Those months were a roller coaster: good news then bad news, progress then setbacks. But throughout the whole process we were able to take advantage of the support meetings and events the March of Dimes sponsored where we were free to open up and talk to medical staff and especially other NICU families about our experiences.

Henry just turned 1 and he is a healthy and happy baby boy with a bright future ahead of him. Our hope in sharing our story is to make others aware of all that March of Dimes has done and will do in the future for babies and their families and most importantly- the realization that babies born too soon is more common than we think. Spread the word! It’s so important to continue the funding of programs and research geared at giving each baby a healthy life.